Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Military Warrants Issued for War of 1812 Veterans

John King submitted this for the readers who are genealogists.

The Bureau of Land Management has an excellent site that allows actual images of land patents.  Especially important to your project is the ability to find land that was patented using military warrants.  Several of the veterans of the War of 1812 first qualified for free government land by an Act of Congress in 1851. 

If a veteran received a military warrant, he could redeem the military warrant at any federal land office for available public land.  Otherwise, the land had to be purchased for cash - the federal government offered no credit terms after 1821.  The transaction at the federal land office resulted in a "warrant" being issued, a receipt for the land that was purchased.  Eventually, the federal government issued a "patent", which perfected the deed; the time lapse gave the federal government a chance to check and recheck their records to make sure that no more than one patent was ever issued for a particular tract of land.  The purchaser of the warrant could assign or sell that warrant to another person and sometimes the patent would be issued in the name of the 2nd party.  A veteran owning an unused military warrant could sell that military warrant to another party - there were a lot of veterans who sold their warrants for ready cash, perhaps for pennies on the dollar.  

For example, a search for JESSE BELL in Lawrence Co IL reveals several land patents But the one dated 1851 shows  that JESSE BELL received land for his service in "Capt Craven's Company, 7th Regiment, North Carolina Militia, War of 1812". (Jesse Bell and his wife are buried at the Bell Cemetery in Lukin Twp.) 

Start your search at

Then enter "illinois" & "lawrence county" & "bell, jesse".  Choose the patent that shows "mw" for military warrant.

A list of veterans of the War of 1812 who received military warrants for land in Lawrence County, Illinois is online at 

If a veteran used a military warrant to purchase a piece of land in his neighborhood and if you can find him buried in that same neighborhood, then you know his unit of service from the land patent itself.  Deed records and a tombstone picture become very good primary evidence of someone's War of 1812 Service.  Just because a veteran used a military warrant and received a patent for a piece of Lawrence Co land, however, doesn't mean that he actually lived here, or if he did live here at one time, he may not have died here. Like any genealogy research, it is just another clue in the life story of your ancestor. 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Wild-eyed Man with Shotgun Riding Through Town

Lawrenceville Republican
June 28, 1889

Those of our citizens who were up at 4 o’clock Saturday morning witnessed quite a laughable incident. A buggy, containing two Vincennes officials, at this hour, went through town on a dead run, and a moment or so behind them, on horseback, rode a wild-eyed man, bare footed, bare headed, wearing nothing but pants and a shirt, a double-barreled shot gun slung carelessly over his shoulder and at every few jumps of the horse he would emit a wild blood-chilling yell. The fellows in the buggy were evidently doing their best to stay out of his “reach”, while the man seemed to be endeavoring to get near enough to discharge his gun at the fleeing men.

Close inquiry elicited the fact that the Vincennes parties were attempting to get the man, Henry Winlock, to return to Vincennes with them where he is wanted on some trivial charge for which he recently jumped his bond. He got his dander up at being hounded by the officials, and ordered them to leave, and as they did not use proper haste in obeying, he mounted his horse, and with gun in hand, chased them through town and clear down the hill east of Lawrenceville, then leisurely rode back home.

The man occupies a tenement house on the farm of O. M. Hollister, two miles south of town and evidently knows enough about the law not to be kidnapped by the officials.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Hats and Hatboxes

The Historical Society has thirty-one ladies' hats from the 1940's to the 1960's.  You may view some of them here:

(We also have some hatboxes.) 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Shoes and One Boot

Yesterday we posted a photograph of a pair of beautifully preserved baby, high-top shoes that had belonged to Mary Ann and Bessie Seed.  Today we post three pictures of children's shoes that were well worn, and one tiny rubber boot-like shoe, that some mother kept to remind her of her child's growing up years.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Personal Items of Bessie and Mary Jane Seed

The patent leather high button shoes and kid gloves were worn by Bessie and Mary Jane Seed of Lawrenceville in the early 1900's.  The two English china children's plates were theirs also. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Infanticide in Lawrence County 1874 Part 2

In the spring of 1874, the citizens of Lawrenceville were shocked  by the murder of infant child. The body of the child was found buried on the farm of William Fish, and was proven to be the child of Josephine Venus, the niece of Mrs. Amy Fish.

Part 2 

The night following the first arrest, and previous to the finding of the body, Josephine Venice and Asa Fish left the town, but, as soon as the child’s body was found, showing evidence of murder, new arrest warrants were issued and the parties were re-arrested, except for the two who had fled during the night.  Pursuit of the fugitives was successful; Josephine and Asa were captured in Vincennes, and returned to Lawrenceville.  

A Coroner’s Inquest was held April 23, 1874 and the jury found that a newborn male infant came to his death by a wound inflicted in the neck by some dull cutting instrument severing the windpipe and large blood vessels. The jury further found that the body had been buried secretly on the Fish farm on or about April 10, 1874, and that Josephine Venice, Amy Fish and Asa Fish were implicated in the murder of the child.

The witnesses gave the following testimony at the Coroner’s inquest. Both Amy and William Fish said they knew nothing about the child, nor how it came to its death. They admitted only that Josephine, had been stopping at their house since New Year's but that she had left their house sometime the night before. Minnie, the Fish’s thirteen-year old daughter, said she knew nothing of the child or how it came to its death; and that she had never seen the child, either alive or after it was dead.

However, Mart Ryan said Minnie Fish told him on Friday, the last day of school, that Jo Venice had had a baby. Elizabeth Sinley said that about two weeks before, Minnie Fish was at Elizabeth’s house and told her that Jo Venus had had a little baby girl.

Annie Selby said that about two weeks prior, Minnie Fish told her, that they had a doll baby over at their house; that Jo Venice had had a baby but Minnie’s mother did not want anybody to know about it and had asked Minnie not to say anything about it. Minnie asked Annie the next day, not to tell anybody what she told Annie the day before.  

The grand jury heard the case of murder in the first degree against the defendants two days later before Esq. O.V. Smith.  The court-room was very crowded from the opening of the case at 9 o’clock a.m., until its conclusion at 7 p.m.  The prosecuting attorney, Judge Hoffman, assisted by F. D. Preston of the Richland County bar, appeared for the State.  The defense was ably conducted by Messrs. Lowry and Rowland, assisted by ex- Judge Shaw, of Olney.  All the parties accused were committed to jail, for trial on the murder charge at the August term of the Circuit court with the exception of Minnie Fish, who because of her age, was acquitted and discharged from custody.

Judge Allen granted a writ of habeas corpus for a re-hearing of the testimony in the case of The People vs.  Mrs. Amy Fish, on the charge of infanticide.  The hearing of the testimony took place in Louisville, Clay County, on May 7, 1874, and resulted in remanding the prisoner back to the Lawrence County jail.  A newspaper article reported that additional and stronger evidence was given than that obtained before the Justice’s Court.

Researchers of the Lawrence County Court records for this case have found very little, with the exception of the testimony given in the Coroner’s Inquest, and what they have found has been unsatisfactory.  The case against the defendants for concealing the death of bastard child was heard by Judge Allen in May and agreed by all parties to be continued.  It was again continued in August.

However, the newspaper reported that on May 22, Judge Allen heard the testimony in the case of The People vs. William Fish and Asa Fish on the charge of infanticide.  There being no evidence against William Fish and Asa Fish; they were discharged.   This did not appear in the Lawrence County court records.

On January 16, 1875, William Fish and his daughter, Minnie, were arrested on an indictment for perjury and held in custody.  Bond was set at $50. 

A notation in the court records for the December term of 1875, about the case of The People vs. Josephine Venice, Amy Fish and William Fish in concealing the death of a bastard child states that it was ordered that the case go off the docket.   What happened to the defendants?  Was anyone ever held responsible for the death of this baby boy? Unfortunately, more research is required.  Are there any volunteers to help solve this mystery?

Monday, January 14, 2019

Infanticide in Lawrence County 1874 Part 1

Infanticide in Lawrence County 1874

The William Fish family lived in Marshall, Virginia, in 1850, but had moved to Denison Township, Lawrence County, Illinois, in 1860.  William’s name is included on the 1863 Federal Civil War Draft List.  By 1870, William was 45 years of age; his wife, Amy, was 38; Asa, a son was 21; Missouri, another daughter, was 16; and Minnie, the youngest daughter was 10 years old.   The family also had two other sons, Charles, age 7, and William, age 1.  

In either December, 1873, or January, 1874, Mrs. Fish’s niece, Josephine Venice, who had previously been living in Jonesboro, Illinois, moved in with her aunt, Amy Fish’s family.  Josephine was then about eighteen years of age. Nine or ten months previously, believing that Pinkney Dishon of Jonesboro, Illinois, was going to marry her, Josephine had given herself to him. When Dishon found out she was in a “family way”, he refused to carry out his promise of marriage.  Josephine then moved to Lawrence County.  It was soon apparent to all, even a casual observer, according to one newspaper reporter, that Josephine would soon become a mother.  

A child  was indeed  born to Josephine, but within two weeks of its birth, the baby had disappeared under suspicious circumstances.

Legal inquiry was instituted.  Bench warrants were issued, followed by the arrest of Josephine, her aunt, Mrs. Amy Fish, Wm. Fish, Asa Fish and Minnie Fish on a charge of privately concealing the death of a bastard child.[1] The defendants were brought before Judge Potts’ court on April 21, to explain the mysterious disappearance of the child. T. B. Huffman was the States Attorney; the defendants were represented by S. B. Rowland, who filed a motion to quash the information filed with the court.  The Court overruled their motion, and the defendants entered their pleas of not guilty.  Bail was set at fifty dollars each. Their attorney provided their security and they were released.

Josephine admitted to Sheriff Blackburn that she had recently given birth to a still born child, and in order to hide her shame, had thrown its body in the Embarrass river.  However, officials did not believe the statement made by Josephine, as to the disposition of her offspring, and a search of the Fish premises commenced.  The child’s body was discovered in the lot at the rear of the house, buried only a few inches below the surface.  The tiny, almost nude body of a little boy had had its throat cut, indicating that the child had been murdered, and not still born as Josephine stated.  

Mrs. Fish, Josephine’s aunt, denied all knowledge of the pregnancy of her niece, and feigned ignorance of all subsequent events connected with the matter.  (To be continued tomorrow)

[1] Criminal Laws of Illinois 1868  Ch. V, Sec. 43:  If any woman shall endeavor, privately either by herself or the procurement of others, to conceal the death of any issue of her body, male or female, which if born alive, would be a bastard, so it may not come to light, whether it shall have been murdered or not, every such mother, being convicted, shall suffer  imprisonment in the county jail for a term not exceeding one year.  Nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to prevent such mother from being indicted and punished for the murder of such bastard child.